Employing staff aged under 18 in bar/restaurant area
Q: I have recently taken over a premises that has both a bar and restaurant area and is particularly busy at weekends. I want to employ new members of staff to assist during these busy periods and would like to know if I can employ anyone under the age of 18 in either the bar or the restaurant?
A: There are provisions in the Licensing Act 2003 that mean you can employ staff under the age of 18 in your licensed premises and these are set out in section 153.
It is vital to understand the rules are different depending on whether the person under the age of 18 is employed to serve alcohol in the bar or in the restaurant area, so this may be something you want to consider prior to employing the individual.
If you decide to employ the individual to work in the bar area then you will need to ensure every sale of alcohol made by them is approved by a responsible person. That responsible person could be the premises licence holder, the designated premises supervisor, or any other individual who is over the age of 18 and has been authorised by the premises licence holder or designated premises supervisor.
If however, you decide to employ the individual to work in the restaurant, and they are serving alcohol to customers who are consuming a table meal there, no authorisation is required for the sale.
If the member of staff worked between the two areas then the position would still be the same and so, for example, if they had been serving in the restaurant and then went over to assist behind the bar it would revert back to every sale having to be approved.
But there may also be local by-laws that apply relating to young persons working in licensed premises – check with your local authority.
Premises licence holder and bankruptcy
Q: I am the holder of the premises licences for the two premises that I operate and I have recently been declared bankrupt. I have been advised by the licensing officer my premises licences have lapsed as a result of this and I will have to apply for a new premises licence for each site – is this correct, and what can I do in the meantime?
A: The key here is when you were declared bankrupt and so potentially the licensing officer is correct. Upon an ‘insolvency event’ of the premises licence holder – eg, bankruptcy – the premises licence automatically lapses. There is provision in the Licensing Act 2003 for the lapsed licence to be reinstated by transfer to another holder, but this must be done within 28 days of the bankruptcy – if it is not then there is no way to reinstate the licence.
If the 28-day period has indeed passed and no action has been taken then you will have to apply for a new premises licence for each site, which will take a period of time to be granted. In the meantime, there are options available to you to allow you to trade to some degree, although none of them would put you in a position where you can carry on ‘business as usual’ until the new licences are in place. Some options are:
- To allow your customers to bring their own alcohol into your premises on a ‘BYOB’ basis so that you are not selling the alcohol – you could still charge them a corkage fee
- To only play background music which is not licensable, or rely on the workplace exemption under the Live Music Act to play live music
- To only serve hot food and drink between the hours of 5am and 11pm as this is not licensable
- To apply for temporary event notices to cover your busiest periods – for example weekends – to allow you to trade on the days covered by the notices.